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State DEED Commissioner Hears from Businesses and Tourism Leaders on Importance of Talent and Collaboration for Economic Development

St. Paul – Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove and Executive Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, Lauren Bennett McGinty, hosted a roundtable focused on the "Build What Matters" campaign and how tourism, talent, and small businesses tie directly to economic and community development.

Minnesota has long been home to businesses and people who make our state extraordinary. During the discussion, representatives from tourism, commerce, and business talked about how they are continuing that tradition.

"Yesterday we heard from talented leaders and business owners about what makes Minnesota the best place to live, collaborate, and do business," said Steve Grove, DEED Commissioner. "We have a long history of building things that change the global economy for the better. Our diversity of culture, economic landscape, environment, and even seasons means we're telling the truth when we say there's something here for everyone."

"There's excellent collaboration between Duluth businesses and sectors that leads to strong economic development and growth in the area," said Lauren Bennett McGinty, Executive Director, Explore Minnesota Tourism. "This happens everywhere from the craft beverages industry to the aviation sector."

Yesterday's conversation drew on what can be done to attract startups, workers, and new residents to Duluth and Minnesota – which in turn enhances the tourism opportunities and workforce pipeline and Minnesota's overall economy. The attributes that set Minnesota apart are outlined in clear detail at

Roundtable attendees included:

• Brian Hanson, President & CEO of APEX

• Mark Emmel, President & COO, Lion Hotel Group / Holiday Inn

• Laura Mullen, Co-founder/VP of Outreach and Marketing, Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

• Tom Sega, CEO, Duluth Pack

• Matt Baumgartner, President, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce

"Economic developers are always looking to coordinate with tourism to make our state welcoming and a great place to build a business and a family," said Brian Hanson, President & CEO of APEX.

"Why Minnesota? I like to say 'why not Minnesota?!' because it has so much to offer as a place to live and to visit. This includes a fantastic education system from early childhood to postsecondary, which also helps with workforce development," said Mark Emmel, President & COO, Lion Hotel Group. "It's a fabulous place with endless opportunities to explore, watch professional sports, have a family, and grow a business."

"We're in a beautiful, entrepreneurial growth stage in Duluth. And entrepreneurs are talented at working through challenges like COVID. We're always asking, 'What's next, how do you handle it gracefully, and how do we keep customers at the center of the experience?'" said Laura Mullen, Co-founder/VP of Outreach and Marketing, Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

"People talk about four distinct seasons, and you will certainly experience them in Minnesota!" said Tom Sega, CEO, Duluth Pack. "We find reasons to thrive in all seasons. We have the largest freshwater lake in the world, 1000-foot ships that pass nearby, a safe and friendly atmosphere with wonderful restaurants and small businesses, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. And in terms of access to talent, we have hardy souls and hard-working people who create a strong, loyal, and talented workforce."

"Our world-class medical district in Duluth is a huge part of why my family chooses to live here," said Matt Baumgartner, President, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's also an excellent place to raise a family – to do that, you need strong health care and educational opportunities, support services, great neighborhoods, natural beauty and amenities, and a vibrant growing economy that can survive the ups and downs of time."

DEED is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website, the website, or follow us on Twitter.


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